The origins of Mexican cooking and its evolution in Edinburgh’s Mexican restaurants
Mexican cuisine’s early origins can be traced back to around 7,000 BC, when corn, tomatoes, beans and various root vegetables became prominent in the diets of the indigenous people of what is now Mexico. The Mesoamerican diet later fused with that of the Spanish colonisers, who brought along rice, domesticated animals for meat, and dairy products during the conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. Vegetables and other native ingredients are especially common in the Mexican kitchen, and the chilli pepper plays a particularly important role in many of its dishes. Thankfully for folks who can’t handle the heat, most Mexican restaurants in Edinburgh tone down the spice level to local standards. In Mexico, every region has its own cuisine variations, like a focus on seafood and fish in western Mexico, while the cuisine of Chiapas uses a special chile called simojovel, which can be found nowhere else in the country. Chocolate is an ingredient that’s especially beloved by Mexicans, and has an incredibly long history of use in Mesoamerica beginning as far back as 1750 BCE. In Aztec times, chocolate was used ceremonially for sacrifices and sometimes even as an aphrodisiac. Today, chocolate is often served up as a hot drink for breakfast with cinnamon and perhaps pan dulce (a sweet bread) on the side. Dishes made with chocolate can usually be found in the more traditional Mexican restaurants in Edinburgh, especially in the form of mole, one of Mexico’s most well known sauces.